2 months on, police draw blank on rector's murder

It has been more than two months since Father K J Thomas, the Rector at St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Yeshwantpur, was murdered, but police still grope in the dark, drawing a blank on almost all angles of investigation.

Far from solving the mystery, the investigators have not even zeroed in on the suspects. A senior police officer who is leading the probe said that it was the “most challenging” case of his career.

The probe so far comprised six different angles and the sleuths visited at least three southern states on the crime trail. A dead end has thus forced them to look for elusive clues in the night of the murder.

All that the police have done is to narrow the list of “potential suspects” down to 18 men who were in the seminary on the fateful night. Of particular interest are three men — Fr Patrick Xavier, the procurator at the seminary who was sleeping in the room next to the rector’s, and two cooks, Raja and Reddy. It was Fr Xavier who discovered the murder. He claimed that he did hear faint sound around 2 am but didn’t come out.

The cooks were sleeping in the room next to the grill door which was broken open with a cutter. Police are not ready to accept the trio’s claim that they heard nothing. They were subjected to hearing tests and doctors found them possessing “excellent” auditory faculties, a senior police officer said. They also underwent polygraph and brain mapping tests. The only hope for the police are a few inconsistencies found in the trio’s earlier statements and what they said during these tests.

Hence, police are going in for narco analysis. Fr Xavier would undergo the test first. He has submitted an affidavit to the 1st ACMM, giving his consent. He also appeared before the court on Wednesday. The matter has been adjourned to Thursday. Rajesh and Reddy would undergo the test next.  However, police are not very enthusiastic as the test is not admissible in court. At the most, it is an aid to the probe. The test is usually carried on people whom the proximity of circumstantial evidence points to.

Investigators, however, have not ruled out anything. “As we have not got any conclusive lead, we cannot rule anything out. For all the complicated investigation, it might be just a case of robbery gone awry,” a senior officer said. “It could be a well-planned murder or just a blind case without a motive.”

The rector’s family members in Kottayam district of Kerala were also questioned after his will emerged. But police couldn’t get a lead.

Besides, Rafael Raj and his associates at Kannada Catholic Craisthara Sangha were questioned. Raj had led a protest against the seminary, demanding that Kannada be the medium of instruction at the seminary.

He had even threatened that “blood would flow if Kannada was not implemented”. He had also exchanged SMSes with his associates at the time of murder.

Police say hired killers or a gang of robbers could also be involved. A source said that a towel found near Thomas’s body was the one mostly used by labourers from western India. A police team has since gone there.

The finger and shoe print are turning out to be the crucial leads. The shoe print was found at the rear of the building from where the assailants are suspected to have fled. The finger prints were crosschecked with at least 2.5 lakh finger prints, including the victim’s acquaintances, those connected with the seminary, vagabonds, career criminals, etc. But they have drawn a blank there too.

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